Dress Rehearsal, a steadily improving Irish-bred filly trained by Bill Mott, turned the tables on prohibitive favorite Criticism to win the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on the Gulfstream Park turf course March 22.
Ridden to victory by Kent Desormeaux, Dress Rehearsal swept past Criticism on the outside approaching the sixteenth pole and drew away for a 2 3/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile test of older fillies and mares. Desormeaux and Mott had a great weekend after teaming up a day earlier with WinStar Farm’s 3-year-old Hold Me Back to take the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
The winning 4-year-old daughter of Galileo took advantage of a grass course with some give in it for her first graded or group victory. This was her third U.S. start for Mott and owner Swettenham Stud.
Criticism had defeated Dress Rehearsal by 2 1/2 lengths as the favorite in the Very One Stakes (gr. IIT) at 11 furlongs on a firm Gulfstream turf Feb. 22.
In the Orchid, Darley Stable's Criticism, the 3-5 choice, took command from pacesetter Julia Tuttle with a half-mile to run. She held a sizable lead in the lane for jockey Edgar Prado but tired in deep stretch and was passed for second by 1 1/4 lengths by Lamentation and Rene Douglas. Criticism nipped the late-running Favorite Fantasy by a head for the show spot. The final time was 2:29.77 on a course rated good.
Julia Tuttle sprinted to the early lead over Criticism and led the favorite by up to eight lengths while posting stiff fractions for the distance of :23.66, :46.94 and 1:11.37. The lead began to shrink rapidly after that as Criticism, being tracked all the way by Desormeaux and Dress Rehearsal, closed in on the leader. Criticism led by two lengths after running 10 furlongs in 2:03.54 but could not hold off the rallying Dress Rehearsal.
“What you saw was a pretty gritty effort on her part, a lot of heart and determination," Desormeaux said. "She gave me a little kick at the eighth pole and that’s when I knew we were ready to make a move on Edgar (Criticism). It was a hell of a performance by a hell of a horse.”
Dress Rehearsal posted her fourth lifetime win in eight starts. She won twice in the United Kingdom last year, including a listed stakes triumph in Ireland in June that preceded a sixth-place finish in a group II event at Haydock.
Her next start came at Tampa Bay, where she won an optional claiming allowance race on the turf Jan. 18. Dress Rehearsal ran into problems in the Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) in her next start, however, when she was forced to steady early as Criticism cruised to a front-running win. Dress Rehearsal overcame the trouble to finish an encouraging second.
“She had a lot of trouble in her last race and was the only one running at the favorite (Criticism) at the finish that day," said Ken McCarthy, Mott's assistant. "I don’t think (Criticism) ran quite as good today as she did in the last race.”
Bred by Sunderland Holdings, Dress Rehearsal is out of the Night Shift mare Sassenach. The bay filly earned $90,000 for the victory, boosting her career bankroll to $196,391.
The second choice in a field reduced to six by a pair of scratches, Dress Rehearsal carried 120 pounds to victory and paid $6.20, $3.40 and $2.10. She also keyed a $2 exacta worth $28.80.
The British-bred Lamentation, fifth in the Very One for trainer Christophe Clement, returned $4.60 and $2.20 in an improved effort. Criticism, who came in with back-to-back graded wins for trainer Tom Albertrani, was $2.10 to show.
Favorite Fantasy was followed by the Chilean-bred Laguna Plateada and Julia Tuttle. Empiress and Paste Gal scratched.